Fast-Casual Upstarts Recruit Big-Time Investors for Accelerated Growth

LeBron James has made another monumental decision to switch teams, and while this one did not require a self-indulgent TV special—or cause any of my colleagues from Ohio to burn his jersey—it probably will turn out to be another shrewd move to a winning organization. The basketball star has cut ties with McDonald’s and will […]

Fast-Casual Restaurants Continue to Outperform

Technomic has just released its preliminary data for the 2014 Top 500 Chain Restaurants Report, and fast casual continues to outshine the industry overall. Just one indication of that is a look at the top growth chains. Because it’s much easier for a small chain to show a large percentage increase, we look at large […]

Smashburger CEO: ‘We’re Still in the Second Inning’

Smashburger CEO Dave Prokupek has found himself in the news a lot lately, discussing the Denver-based chain’s ambitious growth plans and its vision of remaking the U.S. burger landscape one smashed, seared and seasoned patty at a time. Smashburger has added about 50 units in each of the past two years, ending 2012 with 193 […]

U.S. Fast-Casual Chains Looking North for Growth

Several leading U.S.-based fast-casual chain restaurants ramped up their Canadian expansion efforts in 2012. Five Guys Burgers and Fries was particularly aggressive, nearly doubling its units (from 28 to 54) in one year. Five other U.S. chains committed to Canadian expansion—Taco Del Mar, Fatburger, Panera Bread, Chipotle Mexican Grill and Smashburger—grew location totals between 9 […]

Is Costa Rica the New Hot Spot?

Three American fast-casual concepts have recently opened new restaurants in Costa Rica. Does this indicate that the country is a new hot spot for the segment? Or perhaps an entry point into the South American market? Cosi entered the Costa Rica market with a location in Escazu operated by franchisee Fast Casual S.A. The unit […]

Smashburger Builds a Better Burger-and-Beer Occasion

Smashburger, the 143-unit fast-casual concept that plays in the better-burger segment, debuted a burger-and-beer pairing menu in two Denver-area locations that involves brews from nearby New Belgium Brewing Co. The initiative speaks to Smashburger Founder and Chief Concept Officer Tom Ryan’s mission to continually elevate the burger occasion, further differentiate Smashburger and strengthen the brand’s […]